I know this list is a bit old, from back in 2011, but I ran across it while looking up something about the Yardbirds, and there is something on there that just drove me nuts (OK, nuttier). First off, let’s look at the Top 10
- Jimi Hendrix
- Eric Clapton
- Jimmy Page
- Keith Richards
- Jeff Beck
- B.B. King
- Chuck Berry
- Eddie Van Halen
- Duane Allman
- Pete Townshend
I suppose we could all quibble a bit. I would put either Beck, Clapton, or Page as #1. That’s not a knock at Hendrix, the other three have a much larger body of work. Keith Richards is awesome, but I’m not sure I’d put him in the top 10, he’s more a rhythm guitarist. Not sure about Allman, either. Certainly great, but not top 10 great.
Here’s where it gets nuts
#73 Curt Cobain
#98 Alex Lifeson (Rush)
The very fact that Cobain is on the list is idiotic. That Lifeson isn’t in the Top 30 is pure stupidity. Dude has been making awesome music with Rush since the early 70’s. This totally makes a mockery of any Top 100 list for guitarists.
There are also a bunch of others who shouldn’t be on the list. John Lennon? Great songwriter, but guitar? Nope. George Harrison at #11? No. If we have Pete Townshend at 10 because he is one of the greatest rhythm guitarists ever, where’s Malcolm Young of AC/DC? How about Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead? If you know guitar sheet music, you can understand how intense his chords are. While he sings.
Ritchie Blackmore at #50? Should be way, way higher. Massive influence on rock music. Tony Iomi should be higher than 25. Grandfather of the heavy sound.
Springsteen at #96? Shouldn’t be on the list. More of a singer/songwriter who plays a bit of rhythm.
Where the hell’s Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden? Two of the most influential metal guitarists (who also happen to rock beyond belief) since the 1980’s.
Where’s Michael Schenker, of UFO and Scorpions fame? Or Mattias Jabs, who was the guitarists for the Scorpions during their biggest period of success (79-91)?
James Honeyman Scott, of the Pretenders? Awesome and unique rhythm guitar before his untimely death.
I’m sure everyone can quibble a bit, and note their favorites missing or too low. Obviously, I tend to lean towards a heavier, more metal sound. But, if we have John Lennon, where’s Arlo Guthrie, a much better player? Same with James Taylor. Really, though, it is that thing with Cobain/Lifeson.
More: Couple I forgot about. How about Neal Schon, mostly known for his Journey days (he’s done a lot more)? His riffs are way more than standard pop/rock. And Ted Nugent? How about Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon?
One thing I was impressed by was the inclusion of Robbie Robertson, best known for being with The Band. People sometimes forget just how good he was, and how influential The Band was, and still is.
A very late update, Nov. 28th: A couple more names occurred to me. How about Steve Howe, of Yes and Asia? Just listen to the riffs they guy creates, and the fact that he made a lot of fantastic music for decades. He won Guitar Player’s Best Guitarist 5 straight years from 77-81. People so often forget about him.